Saturday, February 25, 2012

How to Train for an Adventure Race

"You know it's true the other shoe
It waits for you, what can you do?
Remember to show gratitude
The darkest night is nothing new."

The day before Dave and I start the ITI 350 (, and a recap of our adventure to get here and some helpful hints for anyone interested in trying was in order. I suppose this time frame is called "tapering", or in my universe "too late to make a difference". An "adventure race", for people not familiar, is something people do because they can't stay home and knit. It is a ridiculous form of testing oneself in which at least one essential body part could be lost.

First, try to find a sponsor.

Dave chose Matador jerky. We're still waiting for a call back.

Next, be sure to take Before and After pictures of any overnight trips.

We left for a Red Shirt Lake Cabin from our house bright-eyed and sled-tailed. By the time was got back home, It had snowed 6 inches overnight. We snowshoed back 16 miles. Ugh.
So these pics tell you a couple things. What you come back wearing is what you probably should have started in. And it shows you how this training business can age you 10 years in 2 days:

Make sure you try out all of your gear during training. Sometimes all at the same time. And sometimes, all of you gear is not enough for a Willow winter:

Intimate knowledge of various fasteners and plastic thingies is essential- duct tape, trash compactor bags, black trash bags, thin orange string, bungees, tarps, foam padded stuff. Oh. Or you could be very wealthy and buy everything from REI. But what's the fun in that?

It's very important to train in weather similar to that for the race. Unfortunately, our thermometer was stuck at those temps for about 3 weeks:

In the process of training for a long race, your friends begin to believe that you have died or moved out of state. In order to avoid this from happening, invite them up for a weekend of running with you. Make sure you invite them up when you've got the above temperatures to which they are not acclimated. Take them out to Vera Lake. Just when their face freezes, tell them it's time to eat cookies:
Check in periodically with the veterans. Take 'em for a run, get some advice on pulling to McGrath, harness fit,  the Happy River Steps, pace etc. Hmm. They're still laughing at us. "Retirement's the way to go, people. Who actually WANTS to pull a sled all the way to McGrath?" Silliness, Cedar says:
And let's not forget about color. Find the most colorful clothes you can, for several reasons. It brightens up a white day, full of snow and drab, dull scenery. It makes you easier to get hit, oh, I mean seen, by fast moving, drunk snowmachiners. And it throws off the competition. You see, no one will take you seriously if you look like Dr. Seuss out there:
If you are having a crap ass day training, the snowshoes are a pain in the ass, your girlfriend is being bitchy (who, me, blink, blink?) you're tired and if you punch through with one more foot in the Kepler fields, the least you can do is enjoy the f*cking scenery:
If you are going to practice melting snow for water and putting up the tent for the first time, don't pick a -35 day. It's just not good for the morale. Seriously. You're 2 miles from home, you can't feel your hands and you have to get to McGrath. From this little excursion, we promptly went home and checked the refund policy. Nope. Guess we're going:
Be sure to master the art of the self-portrait. Here are a couple of my favorites:
From New Year's Day:

Don't let the weather predictions upset your calm, relaxed demeanor. 22 inches predicted in the Susitna Valley in the next two days. Awesome. Don't worry. You've already seen it all in the last 4 months. Including the moose. We've got the siren for them.

"Was I wrong
Off all night long
So high
As the stinking sun
I came alive
Then I felt
Oh Uh Oh.."

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Are We Doing This Again?

So as I started the text for this post, Yvonne says "hey, that's almost the same as my race album on Facebook- We are out here again" Funny. Same thoughts. And so, it's the start of Susitna 100, another dark drive on Pt Mac Road, another pre-race smile. Dave is smiling because he always smiles. I am smiling because I'm not running the 100. Yvonne is sacrificing herself and pacing me on the 50K this year. THAT'S how good of a friend she is. All year long we are up in no man's land, aka Willow, so we love to see all of our friends at these races. I think I actually enjoy that more than the race itself. We've looked at Ed and Christine with envy now for two years on their bikes. Ah, one day. One last group photo- Dave, Mike, Ed and Christine. Notice this year, Dave is right up front just behind the bikers, because he's going solo, and fast. As everybody fusses with gear, Laura, my ultrarunning hero, hones in on who she's gonna take down this year:
And they're off- by the time two of my favorite runners, Kevin Vig and Jane Ballwin rounded the corner, the bikers were almost to Flathorn. At this point, Jane is also thinking- are we doing this again?
Dave, just finishing Ayrshire, says- Does this Joe guy know that we have 97 more miles to go? He must be fooled by how nice Ayrshire was this year:
After we saw Dave off down the road, we checked out the end of Ayrshire. We brought our skis with us and I was undecided (per the norm) about what we were going to do. Of the two choices, running or skiing, I have been walking, actually, this winter. With my trusty sled Jiggs II and my poles, I've covered all the trails around Willow, walking. I like walking. Well, the trail looked a lot firmer than we thought so I signed an "F" next to my name.
With my typical multiple clothes change-out, we headed up to the start. Lo and behold, a guy with a skirt who wanted to take our picture. See, he talked the skirt lady in Anchorage into giving him a free skirt, for male-marketing purposes. He was very quick to add "oh, but I'm not running in mine". Personally, I think the skirt suits you, Andy. Oh, and DeeDee- we love our skirts!
And, then we were off. I couldn't believe how good Ayrshire was this year. Gorgeous day. Trotted along-side Jay Liggett for a while. Looking forward to seeing him at Hatcher Pass Marathon this year.
"Ooooverflow" she says. I was happy about my waterproof shoes:
I think this is what they call the Tunnel of Love. I call it the Tunnel Where My Camelbag Drenched Me Last Year. No such problems this go-round . But speaking of Problems. Vonnie and I were very efficient with problem solving. All sorts of things. Boys. Jobs. World Peace. All solved. Except the Boys.
About 6 miles before this, I was ready to go home. Really. It always happens 10 miles into one of these endeavors. I always tell myself, Self, stick to half-marathons. Anyway, this is the halfway point on Flathorn Lake for the 50K. All those sorry 100-miler souls have to go around behind me and to the right to the first checkpoint, where the warmth and food suck you in. Gnomeo and Juliet and the two Harley-Davidson/redneck gnomes pointed us left, to....the gasline.
Vonnie and I, taking a break on The Gasline. As an shoutout to JD, let's again go over the gasline. It is a straight, never-ending trail. The only reason you can't see the end of it is because the earth is a f**king sphere. Thanks, JD. We missed you this year.
Then there was a whole bunch of walking, solved World Hunger issues and the like, yada, yada, and we're finished. Now let me again say that Vonnie is awesome- she came up for the weekend to visit and ran the whole race with me. Who does that?
We picked up Mekong take-out (Mmm, garlic chicken) and went to bed. I was really nervous about missing Dave's finish, so I kept setting my alarm to check the updates. Around 6am, I panicked a bit, stopped Vonnie mid-toast and said "we gotta go". I had been adding up his times and was worried he'd be in already, sleeping in his wet clothes in the cabin. So we sped to Pt Mac, again in the dark, almost hit a moose south of Willow (thanks, Vonnie) and then I ran into the cabin. Mary, calming as ever, said Oh, you're just in time. You even have time for breakfast. Biscuits and gravy later, we drove down Ayrshire, and there he was! Still Smiling!
After a kiss and a hug, he said "I just wanna go home". I know how he felt.
I was so proud of him at this moment. I know what training's been like this winter. There's been a lot of cold, sadness and snow in Willow and to see him push through it, with no food for 50 miles...
Davey, running his Dad into the finish-
Don't let the smile fool ya. This is how you really feel:
Dave, finished his 4th Susitna 100, winning his third in 24:11.
Six more for the 1049 award?
Time to start saving for a bike, babe.

It's a Natural Disaster...

There's a new kid in the lot.
Or rather, Volcano's come back home.
He's quickly learned how to be a dog again, keeping the others on their toes. He's currently working on all the branches the moose haven't munched.
I've always wanted a little red guy.
He'll never fill the booties left behind, but he doesn't need to.
He's his own crazy character and we love him already.
On the trail today to meet a couple moose...

The Best Willow

in your wings my little one
This special morning brings another sun
see the things that never come

When you see me
Fly away without you
Shadow on the things you know
Feathers fall around you
And show you the way to go

I love you Willers and I'm sorry.
I hope I showed you my whole love every day.